July 7, 2015 Subject:
This is a tale of INDIA
Despite unfortunate illustrations and more than a few unfounded assumptions from readers who are unfamiliar with the setting, the character of Sambo is from the south of India. Thus we have mention of the tigers (which are not indigenous to Africa), and the reference to melted butter, called by its Hindi name, ghi (ghee).
It's a shame that people can't get past the name (and I'm counting the illustrators among them), because discounting that, it's a rather nice little tale with nothing racist about it. Read it for yourself.
March 4, 2015 Subject:
Interesting Reflection Of Those Times
A very interesting booklet that reflects societal attitudes of the times. Published in 1908, this definitely has a negative stereotype to it. But it is also important from a historical perspective. These stereotypes were the norm in those times. The illustrations depict a kind of silliness in the characters that was accepted. But the story is still good. It has a good point about greed and want. My guess is these booklets were read more by African Americans to their children than in the white community. The name "Little Black Sambo" was at times used negatively toward African American children. We can't change the past. But we can look at it to see what happens when you normalize discrimination. And that will remind us how toxic it can be.